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Low Fat And Low Carb Diets: The Benefits Of Low Fat Diets Versus Low Carb Diets

Updated on February 24, 2011

Low-Fat Diets Versus Low-Carb Diets

While I think that both of these diets have their strong points, having done both types myself, I have found that the low-fat diets are the easiest to maintain over time and as well have the benefit of being heart-healthy as well as lifestyle modifying.

I have tried low-carb diets several times and to be honest, I never felt quite right while I was on them. It seemed to me that I was tipping the scale so to speak in a different way - I was eating too much of one type of food, for instance protein, and taking out another type, the carbs, only to find that my energy was gone and I was left feeling like my metabolism was off.

While I think that there is great validity in weight loss from low-carb diets, I think that balancing our diet and learning behavioral modification when it comes to eating ends up being the best solution - for sustained weight loss and overall nutrition.

The first thing to remember is that any diet that you embark on requires change - change in thinking and change in behavior.  For most of us, eating is something we do but something we don't necessarily think about all that much - or until we realize we need to lose weight! 

No matter what diet you are on or even if you are just maintaining your weight, there is a simple mathematical equation going on here -  you either are too heavy or too thin or 'just right'.  It's all about the calories and every single person is different in what they require.  Finding that 'magical number' is the science of it and then figuring out what you can eat to keep you feeling good while maintaining your desired weight is vital.

Changing over to a low-fat diet doesn't have to be painful as today there are so many choices.  The most important thing to remember is that if you make a change, sometimes it has to be 'drastic' in terms of getting rid of your old foods and bringing in new and improved foods that will keep you satisfied appetite-wise and yet be good for you.

Recommended Daily Nutrition Amounts

2000 or less
50 grams 
50 grams or less 
63 grams 
65 grams or less 
65 grams or less 
88 grams or less 
Saturated Fat
20 grams or less
20 grams or less
27 grames or less
304 grams
304 grams
410 grams
25-35 grams
25-35 grams
25-35 grams
300 mg or less
300 mg or less
300 mg or less
18 mg
8 mg
8 mg
2300 mg or less
1500 mg or less
2300 mg or less
1000 mg
1200 mg
1000 mg

Of course this varies for everyone and some may require fewer calories

Tips for Converting to a Low-Fat Diet

Changing to a low-fat diet is actually very easy because it does not involve you cutting out huge groups of foods per se. Within reason, by switching to low-fat or low-calorie varieties of food and changing a few dietary habits, you can ease into a low-fat diet very quickly.

Here are some tips though to help you through the transition:

  • Invest in a good low-fat cookbook or two - What we think is low-fat sometimes can be exactly the opposite or it can be loaded with calories or the wrong kind of fat. Even check 1 or 2 out at the library and find recipes that are palatable to you and your lifestyle - then experiment to see if you like the recipes
  • Get rid of anything that is NOT low-fat - In your refrigerator, in your freezer, and in your pantry! If you do not do this, it is too easy to backslide and revert to old eating habits. If you don't have it there, you can't eat it or use it. Start over so to speak and adjust your thinking to going low-fat as much as possible in all areas across the board
  • Have healthy snacks at the ready - Do your research and find out what your caloric needs are and then gauge when you think you will want a snack and what you need to have ready. This way you will avoid running to the cabinet for a bag of chips - if you get hungry and you have carrots or celery already in the fridge, you can substitute, still have your snack and feel like you are doing the 'right' thing
  • Think about what you are eating when you sit down at a meal - and take smaller portions. Go so far as to down-size your plate. Instead of a dinner plate, try a dessert plate for putting your food on the table. It will give you the visual concept that you are eating less which you truly are!
  • Take time to eat and digest as you eat - Meaning don't race through your meals or eat while you are doing something else. Taking the time to monitor yourself and know when you have reached 'full' is a good trait to acquire - it prevents overeating and being remorseful later
  • Don't miss breakfast! We all learned from childhood it was the most important meal of the day and it is still true. If you miss breakfast, your body will be thrown off kilter for the rest of the day in terms of nutrition and fuel needs - your metabolism will compensate for that missed fuel by needing more later in the day which is a double-edged sword that carries with it the possibility of overeating to compensate. Be smart and have that healthy breakfast every day!
  • Water, water, water - It is the cheapest of liquids to drink and the more you drink of it, the better your metabolism will be. Even if you are not on a weight loss diet and simply following a low-fat diet, water is a necessity and should be part of everyone's daily consumption. It also acts as an appetite suppressant. Eliminate pop and caffeine as much as possible - these are 2 substances that actually stimulate appetite and have no nutritional value in them whatsoever
  • Exercise - Each and every person should participate in exercise every single day - for 30 minutes at least if possible. It doesn't have to be weightlifting or marathon running to be effective. Again, even if you are not on a weight loss diet, it is for your health and your heart! Exercising helps metabolize food and helps to clear out the cobwebs. Physical exertion also gives you a sense of well-being that nothing else can provide
  • Eat more fish - It is recommended that fish take the place of meat at least 1-2 times per week in a low-fat, heart-healthy diet. Salmon is the #1 recommended fish of choice for its heart healthy properties
  • Have a vegetarian meal at least once per week - Meatless chili is a great substitute for the protein of meat. When you do eat meat, make sure that it is the leanest cut possible and not too grand in portion. If you are having poultry, it is much better to have it skinless
  • Eat your biggest meal at noontime! This is a great way to balance metabolism and keep weight steady. By eating a smaller meal at night or even switching to a salad or something light in the evenings, you will find that you are less hungry in the morning and that you sleep better as well
  • Don't be too hard on yourself! If you are trying to lose weight, it is recommended that you try to stick to 2 pounds per week and although that sounds tedious and too little, in the long run, you will be healthier and better able to sustain weight loss if you approach it sensibly. One thing to remember is that a low-fat diet doesn't mean you can never have chocolate or something else again. You just have to make better choices and pick things that are low-fat or lower in calories. But the occasional indulgence should not cause terrible worry - the beauty of the low-fat diet is that it is a lifestyle change and you can just go right back to it instantly!


Low-Fat Recommended Foods and Servings Per Day

Type of Food 
Servings per day 
Eat These 
Don't Eat These
4 or more servings 
Whole grain bread/cereal/oatmeal 
White bread/processed snacks
3 or more servings
Raw, boiled or baked - any 
Fried or vegetables in sauce
2 or more servings 
All fruits but calories count 
Meat or Meat Alternative
5-6 ounces per day total
Poultry skinned/fish/eggs/lean meats
Processed meats/lunch meats
No particular amount - just watch calories
Broth-based/skim milk based
Creamed or made with meat fat
Oils or Fats
3 servings (dressings, oil, etc)
Nuts/olive oil/low-fat dressings
Fat-laden fats and oils
Milk or Dairy Products
2 or more cups per day
Skim or low-fat milk/dairy products
Whole milk/regular cheese
4-6 cups of appropriate beverages
Anything made with high-fat ingredients
Dependent upon calories
Sherbet/frozen yogurt/low-fat puddings
Ice cream/pastry/doughnuts/chocolate

Summing It Up

I believe low-fat diets are safer for most people over 25 or 30 years of age - and I think the health benefits of a low-fat diet carry a lot of 'weight' so to speak. It is for the most part a very healthy way to eat and it is a great way to lose weight or keep your weight steady.

Some foods to avoid if you are trying to keep on a low-fat diet:

  • Potato chips - unless they are baked
  • White bread
  • Canned meats
  • Processed foods - ready-made mixes, etc
  • Creamed soups and gravies unless homemade
  • Sugar - sugared cereals - sugared creamers
  • Regular mayonnaise and dressings made with oil
  • Fish or other foods packed in oil
  • In general, foods that are processed as you cannot control the fat level in them

Instead add more of these to your diet:

  • Whole grain pasta or brown rice
  • Use honey, molasses or maple syrup for sweetening
  • Dried fruits
  • Whole grain breads and cereals
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Dressings made of vinegars, low-fat or fat-free
  • Dairy products that are low-fat, fat-free or skim milk based
  • Vegetables - fresh or canned/frozen
  • Fruits - fresh or canned/frozen without syrup
  • Meat or fish packed in water
  • Use butter sparingly or use some of the low-fat spreads
  • Incorporate more beans in your diet
  • Cook more from scratch so you can control the ingredients
  • Learn to cook the low-fat, non-fat way

You don't have to give up everything - you just have to learn to make it better!


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Carol3san - Go girl~! That is the key right there I think - combining and eating smaller meals more frequently so that you don't feel hungry. Wishing you every success in your endeavors - and keep me posted!

    • carol3san profile image

      Carolyn Sands 

      10 years ago from Hollywood Florida

      I've been suffering with obesity for most of my adult life. Now I've finally found the courage to fight against this dreadful disease and am also experiencing some major success. What has been working for me is a combination of low fat and low carbs, and eating small meals five or six times per day.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Cycloptak - weight loss is never an easy thing and is rather an ongoing lifestyle, especially the older you get. I think the main thing to focus on is eating right and not expecting change to occur in a day. But obesity of course is a relative term for most of us, isn't it?

      Take it one day at a time and I have no doubt that you will succeed!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Hi. I recently have become quite overweight. I am looking for a diet that will work that I can afford. I think you have given me some good ideas to start.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much for stopping by, vocalcoach! I hear you on the watching list. I love avocados and I have to be really careful about eating them. That just doesn't seem fair!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      11 years ago from Pahrump NV

      Good information on low fat versus low carbs. As a vegan, the only things I have to watch are avocados (yum), oilive oil and restricting nuts - love these foods. Thank you for a very good reminder. Rated up.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      I totally agree - and isn't that the pesky little thing - that exercise thing? I actually ride my treadmill or a bike - or I hook up the mals and we go a walking - or like today, we did a herky jerky in the park training - whatever works but it is tough to remember that little thing. I think my dogs keep me on target for exercising all the time although the past few weeks being so sick I think killed all of us!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      11 years ago from Georgia

      I really feel better when I stick to a low carb diet. But I'm talking about a LOW carb diet - not a NO carb diet, which I believe are dangerous. I include lots of veggies like broccoli, leafy greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, yellow squash, zucchini, and green beans. I also try to eat an apple a day, and I drink skim milk. I also take fiber and fish oil, and I drink diet Hawaiian punch for the vitamin C, along with lots of water. Now if I could just get more exercise!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Yes, I agree - whatever works best for your metabolism is the best choice- thanks habee and sandyspider for commenting.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      11 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Interesting hub. Thanks for sharing the two different diets.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      11 years ago from Georgia

      I've tried both types, and I do WAY better on the low carb, but I've had friends who did much better on the low fat. I think everyone's system is different!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Sage - appreciate your comments as always! We switched to the wheat pasta and although sometimes it is not as 'delicious' with the right ingredients or homemade sauces, it works.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 

      11 years ago

      akirchner - Another really terrific hub. Very informative and well written. Where would we be without our diets. I personally have had success with Atkins in the past.

      Today, I just try to eat healthy and exercise. I have to admit I try to stay away from anything white, like breads, pasta, etc. But I don't totally eliminate it, occasionally I will have a little. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables with fish or chicken and small portions.

      As far as low fat, I am forever reading labels and always choose the low fat. Every little bit helps.

      Great Job!


    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Thanks as always, suziecat7 for commenting - and good luck! Me, too!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      11 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I'm about to start on a needed diet so this Hub came at the right time. Thanks.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      11 years ago from Washington

      Thanks my 2 girlie friends as always for commenting...and yes - what's good for one person sometimes doesn't work for the other and I'm sticking with it!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      Benny Faye Ashton Douglass 

      11 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you so much Audrey, for this fantastic informative hub on benefitsof low fat diets versus low carb diets. You have valuable information here. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      11 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Wonderful hub my friend, and put together so perfectly, I am voting for you, thumb up. I think each body might react to diets in a different way, what is good for one person might not be good for another person.


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